Understanding The Microsoft 365 Stack For Cloud Security

Microsoft 365 (M365) provides businesses with a solution that empowers people to fully utilize their creativity while working together securely.

All of the features that you get should enhance the productivity of your business. But, the key to all of this is keeping your data secure.

Incidents of security breaches have been steadily increasing over the last few years so data security should be a top priority for all businesses. By understanding how the Microsoft 365 stack operates, we can see how the available features can strengthen your cybersecurity.

What’s in it?

The first question that one may ask is what will you get with Microsoft 365? And is it actually any different from Office 365 or is this merely a rebranding exercise?

Firstly, clients get local apps and cloud-based apps, and productivity services. These include both M365 Apps for enterprise, the latest Office apps (such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and others), and a full suite of online services.

Secondly, you’ll also receive Windows 10 Enterprise which is the most productive and secure version of Windows. It meets the needs of users and IT for both large and medium enterprises.

And finally, you also benefit from device management and advanced security services including Microsoft Intune. So all in all, Microsoft 365 is designed to be a more comprehensive solution and the name change is more reflective of the range of features and benefits in the subscription.  

Businesses are vulnerable

The importance of cloud security to a business cannot be overstated. Especially when you take into consideration the study by the University of Maryland showing that cybercriminals infiltrate business data about once every 39 seconds.

And as remote work continues to expand, the use of personal devices to access sensitive data can be a massive additional risk. This is why businesses need platforms like Microsoft 365 Stack to not only enhance productivity but safeguard business data as well.

Backing up your data

Arguably one of the first things to consider in your data protection strategy is cloud backup. Because there are so many threats – internal and external – to data security, having your data backed up is a must. Using the Microsoft 365 Cloud Backup comes with several benefits that you simply cannot ignore. And these include:

  • Protection against accidental deletion of data which is something that will happen occasionally.
  • Protection against data losses resulting from cyberattacks.
  • Threats don’t always come from outside actors so backups will also protect you from the nefarious actions of internal actors.
  • Backups can help you to manage legal and compliance requirements.

Working from anywhere

One of the key selling points of Microsoft 365 is how it enables people to collaborate on various projects from just about anywhere. And this is made possible because the responsibility of your data’s security lies with Microsoft.

Businesses can rest easy knowing that their data is highly secure on the OneDrive platform or when shared across Teams and SharePoint.

What this also means is that you have fewer expenses by eliminating the need to maintain expensive hardware.

Furthermore, built-in security features such as the robust data loss prevention policy, Advanced Threat Analytics, and Exchange Online Protection will enable your employees to work remotely as securely as possible.

Secure access to data

The Microsoft 365 stack ensures that even when employees are using personal devices, the security of your data is still maintained. This is possible because of features like multi-factor authentication (MFA) that add a layer of protection to the sign-in process.

So users will have to provide additional identity verification, such as scanning a fingerprint or entering a code received by phone.

Also, you can add solutions like Microsoft Intune to use advanced capabilities that can enforce mobile device encryption and enable the use of PIN numbers. Microsoft ­365 has several threat protection tools that all businesses should know:

  • Microsoft Defender ATP: offers clients excellent endpoint protection and prevents cyberattacks and data breaches. With the increase in use of personal devices, this feature works great on mobile devices, which are particularly vulnerable to attacks.
  • Office 365 ATP: this feature aims to secure your communications by dealing with phishing attacks, zero-day threats, and other types of malware that users may encounter in emails and links.
  • Microsoft Cloud App Security: detects abnormal usage and incidents, alerting you to threats to your cloud apps.
  • Azure ATP: makes use of on-site active directory to keep your identities secure and also reduce the attack surface.

Simplifying update processes

One of the major advantages of having cloud-based software is the ability to have regular updates. This is particularly necessary when we consider the sophistication of the constant cyber threats that businesses have to contend with.

And the great thing about these updates is that Microsoft allows organizations to sign up to an update schedule that is convenient for them. By doing this, regular updates will stop being a nuisance that people sometimes ignore.

Especially given how important they are for bug fixing and patching up security issues. When organizations can have the most up-to-date software versions in their hands, this can significantly enhance their cloud security.

Securing your business

Cyber threats are targeting all kinds of organizations and small businesses are no exception. Without effective solutions in place, you are at risk of being shut down by cybercriminals. But by using Microsoft 365 Stack, you get a robust solution that is designed to provide companies with all the features they need to run a more secure and efficient business.

All the available tools and features will help you to address the data security and compliance issues that you are bound to encounter as time goes on. It may just be time to utilize the enterprise-grade service and protection of the M365 stack. 

Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Tamper Protection Extends Client Coverage

Every business needs to be on top of its game when it comes to matters of the security of its IT infrastructure. Because even the smallest of vulnerabilities can be exploited to devastating effect.

This can potentially cause the shutting down of a business, at best temporarily. And research has shown that the cost of downtime to a company can quite easily run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As we can all imagine, the losses that a business would suffer would be colossal, to say the least. Hence the need to enhance one’s security to keep bad actors at bay. By using Tamper Protection, you immediately strengthen the security of your business.

Why Tamper Protection?

Arguably the greatest challenges to an organization’s IT infrastructure come in the form of malware or malicious apps that tamper with your security settings and potentially create vulnerabilities in your system.

With these changes having been made, your organization becomes a significantly easier target for cybercriminals. It is with this in mind that Microsoft introduced Tamper Protection two years ago.

Simply put, and as the name itself implies, this feature essentially locks Microsoft Defender thus preventing anyone from tampering with your security settings. Including modifications that may be made by administrators.

As a key element of Microsoft’s security strategy, Tamper Protection helps to ensure that Windows 10 clients do not need third-party anti-virus software.

However, Tamper Protection does not have an impact on third-party antivirus registration. So this means that third-party antivirus offerings will continue to register with the Windows Security application. By using Tamper Protection, you can prevent the following:

  • Deactivation of virus and threat protection.
  • Deactivation of real-time protection.
  • Disabling of behavior monitoring.
  • Disabling antivirus (such as IOfficeAntivirus (IOAV))
  • Blocking of cloud-delivered protection.
  • Removal of security intelligence updates.

Extending client coverage

With the obvious benefits that Tamper Protection brings to any organization, it only makes sense to try and extend coverage wherever possible. And this is what Microsoft did with their announcement in September last year.

This feature was extended to cover ConfigMgr 2006-only clients on both Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019, delivered via Tenant Attach. To enable Tenant Attach, the process is fairly straight forward and you can find the instructions provided here.

Having done that, you can then go to Endpoint security > Antivirus in the MEM admin center. From there you can proceed to create and deploy the Tamper Protection setting. After that, you’ll then need to configure the aforementioned setting.

This you will then deploy to a Configuration Manager collection of devices. If you want to view the policy status, go to the Monitoring > Deployments section which you find in ConfigMgr. However, you can also find it in the policy status in the Endpoint Manager Admin center

Utilizing Tenant Attach

Tenant Attach provides a method for attaching your ConfigMgr hierarchy to your tenant and leverages the capabilities available from the cloud. This includes things such as discovering cloud users and groups, synchronizing Azure AD groups from a device collection, etc.

Moreover, you can sync your on-prem only ConfigMgr clients into the MEM admin center thus enabling the delivery of Endpoint security configuration policies to your on-prem clients.

With this tool, a device does not necessarily have to be enrolled in Intune. In fact, it can be managed by either ConfigMgr or Intune. Alternatively, devices can also be co-managed.

Management of Tamper Protection

In addition to managing Tamper Protection using tenant attach as described above, there are a few other management options available. These are:

  1. Management of Tamper Protection using the Microsoft Defender Security Center. You can turn Tamper Protection on or off for your tenant via the Microsoft Defender Security Center. This option is on by default for all new deployments and the setting is applied tenant-wide. So it affects all devices that are running Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, or Windows Server 2019.
  2. Management of Tamper Protection using Intune. If your organization’s subscription includes Intune then Tamper Protection can be turned on or off in the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center.
  3. Management of Tamper Protection on an individual device. Tamper Protection can be managed via the Windows Security app by individuals who are either home users or are not under settings managed by a security team. To do this, however, you need to have the appropriate admin permissions on your device to change security settings.

Keeping track of security data

Having preventive measures in place does not negate the need for constantly reviewing the security information.

You need to regularly check what is going on within your system so that you can stay on top of things because several tampering attempts are usually a sign of something bigger. And that may potentially be a bigger cyberattack.

Cybercriminals can attempt to alter your organization’s security settings as a way to persist and stay undetected.

Therefore, in every business, security teams should review information about such attempts, and then take the appropriate actions to mitigate threats.

The system is designed to raise alerts in the Microsoft Defender Security Center when tampering attempts are made. By utilizing tools such as endpoint detection and response and advanced hunting capabilities, you can investigate further and then implement the necessary measures to address the problem/s.

Wrap up

Microsoft is looking to tackle the surge in cybercrime head-on. Bad actors are constantly seeking out weaknesses in organizations’ systems and occasionally they find them. This is why businesses need to leverage the next-gen security strategies that Microsoft can offer.

With features like Tamper Protection, you get additional security to help your organization block nefarious elements from altering your security settings and leaving you vulnerable. Advanced breaches and increasing incidences of ransomware campaigns need all businesses to start getting proactive about their security. Otherwise, the consequences could prove to be very costly.